Abrogation of Article 370 unhampered many Central sponsored programmes in JK among which ‘Back to Village’ programme a big hit

Abrogation of Article 370 unhampered many Central sponsored programmes in JK among which ‘Back to Village’ programme a big hit

Srinagar: After the revocation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories of Jammu—Kashmir and Ladakh paved a way to 36 major programmes in a span of one year. Among those programmes the unique ‘Back to Village’ under which 20,000 development works were identified directly by the people and the initiative generated a great passion among the people of the region. The Back to Village was programme was started in June last year with the aim of strengthening grassroots democracy and participatory development, taking the administration and administrative officers to the doorsteps of villagers to redress the development and governance deficit in villages, and bridge the gap between public and public servants in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The Back to village achieved the feat of bringing the administration and officers to the doorsteps of the villagers to redress their problems and at the same time it reaffirmed the trust and faith of public in the government.
The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has embarked on an ambitious and extensive programme of reaching out to the people at the grassroots level to create in the rural masses an earnest desire for decent standard of living. The ‘Back to Village’ programme is aimed to involve the people of the state and government officials in a joint effort to deliver the mission of equitable development. The programme is aimed at energizing Panchayats and directing development efforts in rural areas through community participation. According to the programme the civil servants will have to reach out to each Panchayat of the State, where they will stay for a specific period to interact and obtain feedback from the grassroots so as to tailor government efforts in improving delivery of village-specific services. The ‘Back to Village’ programme has been conceived with the objective of ensuring that developmental initiatives are built on the feedback and cooperation of the people, thus being more result oriented with greater probability of success than those which are top down. The programme revolves around the concept that while the official machinery has to guide and assist, the primary responsibility to improve local conditions rests with the people themselves. Therefore, they must be encouraged to own a programme so that benefits are maximized. The life of a person living in a rural area is not cut into segments in the way the Government activities are prone to be. The approach at the village level, therefore, has to be a coordinated, touching all aspects of village life. Such an approach has to be made, not through a multiplicity of departmental officials, but through Panchayats.
During the inauguration of ‘Back to Village’ programme, Chief Secretary B.V.R Subrahmanyam said, “Back to Village programme has been conceived with the notion that developmental initiatives that are built on the feedback and cooperation of the people are more result-oriented and have greater probability to succeed than those which are top-down.” The programme involved near about five thousand gazetted officers of all levels, one for every Panchayat who would then stay for two days and a night in the village. The Back to Village focused on four essential themes like energising Panchayats, collecting feedback on delivery of government programmes, capturing specific economic potential and undertaking assessment of needs of the villages. The officers visited the remotest villages and Panchayats which were never visited before by any government functionaries and the officers also braved a visit to some militancy-affected districts of south Kashmir. During the campaign, the officers lived and ate with the villagers to fully understand their pain and agony and to assuage the feeling of alienation among them. It was also said that every single citizen was to be covered, and no area, howsoever remote or difficult, would be left untouched. The officers were supposed to make a first-hand assessment by seeking the comprehensive feedback from the Panchayat representatives, elders and other local people of the area about their concerns, developmental needs and economic potential. The program was formulated to reach out the public at the grassroots level in order redress the grievances of the people living in the area in a way which have never been adopted before which in return gained the trust of people towards the Jammu and Kashmir UT administration.

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